Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Falling Skies: Mechs, Skitters and Overlords, oh my!

Yes, the second season of Falling Skies is almost here! The new season kicks off with two hours of action on Sunday, June 17 starting at 9pm ET/PT. Thanks to the good folks at TNT, I received not just the first two episodes that will air for the season premiere, but the first four episodes. Now, I don't have to say anything good about the show just because they sent me the eps. I'm under no obligation to TNT at all.

That said, thank you TNT! 

My one real obligation with the screeners is that I don't divulge spoilers. So, instead of giving you any kind of play-by-play, I'm just going to throw out lots of random thoughts on the show and this upcoming season. Make of it what you will, but I'd like you to join the Resistance with me.

While the premise of the series is certainly nothing that we haven't seen before -- the world as we know it is destroyed, mass lives are lost, small groups of folks try to survive -- it's a fairly tried and true kind of storyline. My favorite Stephen King novel is The Stand. Albeit by different means, society as we know it is tossed to the gutter.

A few of the aspects which truly make this show a fantastic TV series are the involvement of Steven Spielberg (executive producer) and the incredibly fine effects. I'm a person who grew up in the days of Star Trek: The Original Series and Lost in Space. Now 40-something years later, their special effects are laughable. Perhaps they were a bit laughable at the time, but I didn't care.

Well, I care these days. Between actual costumed skitters (the bug-like aliens) and CG skitters, it all comes across as so realistic that it's definitely movie quality action we're seeing. The stomping of the mechs echo in my mind long after they leave the area.

With Spielberg's work we've always had great characterization. He continues the trend here. When Noah Wyle's character Tom Mason stepped into that spaceship during last season's finale, my heart skipped a beat. Dang it, I've gone and gotten attached to the dude! (No, not like a harness attached to my spine ...!) All of the main characters in the show are fleshing out ... and I think we see a bit of them in folks we know. 

So, onto the action. I thought the first hour started a bit slow, but as I continued watching the action picked up. By the time I finished the fourth episode I was wanting more. The only real shame of getting a sneak peek at the first four episodes is that now I've watched a good chunk of the season ahead. Drat it all!


If you haven't been watching this series and you like science fiction type of action, definitely check it out. It's not a show for the squeamish, for sure. And, I don't recommend it for the hobbits and wizards crowds, per se. But if you want to watch a well-done series which will keep you on the edge of your seat and perhaps dip into your nightmares, here ya go.

You can find out more about the upcoming season and the show itself at the official TNT Falling Skies website.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - May 27, 2012

Happy Sunday morning, all! I realize, though I dub this post "off topic," I haven't posted anything ON television topic this week! Oops. 

I really haven't been watching too many shows as the May Sweeps period fades away. I've been watching America's Got Talent (and still hoping for tickets to see one of the live shows this summer in Newark) and So You Think You Can Dance started this week. Both shows are still in their audition phases. Letterman went into repeats by Thursday evening with no Jack Hanna appearance during sweeps. I would think that's odd, but I know from Facebook that Jack Hanna had a knee replacement a few weeks ago.

My first day of another staycation started yesterday. Hopefully I'll finish watching some screeners sent to me by TNT and post on them for the lack of any other TV posts. Dependent on the weather, I might run into the city one day. It's Fleet Week there. Maybe I could get some sailor shots! I also have a few places in town I want to shoot (as in take photos of, not as in gunfire). Vincent will also have to go for his check-up and shots this week and i have a few other errands to run as well.

This past week was yet another fairly hectic one for me. I had notice that there would be a "new landlord inspection" Tuesday afternoon. Um. Okay. The state has been in. The city has been in. What could this one be? Cue panic mode. I dusted. I mopped. I waxed. I polished. I cleaned my oven!

All pretty much for naught. It was just a huge Orthodox Jewish man with a meter to check for lead paint. Stepping in the door, he saw Vincent sitting on a chair. "You don't have a dog, do you? I'm scared of dogs. Oh my. That's one big cat!" He then asked me if I heard him screaming this past Thursday. Er, no. He said a dog in the building attacked him. Oh my!

I automatically figured out what dog. "Pit bull with a man in a wheelchair?" "Yes!" Now, I know this dog. Technically, it bit me once. And, yes, someday the dog will be trouble as the man isn't training the dog right. But right now it's a puppy. It gets all happy around people and wants to play. That's how I got bit. The bite didn't break my skin, nor was it any sort of attack. It was playing.

Meanwhile, this lead meter guy jumps every time Vincent makes a sudden move. I'm standing there watching Vincent following him and occasionally carrying Vincent on my shoulder when I see the man tense up. My biggest fear is that Vincent would go for the zizit around the man's waist. After all, you have dangling strings near a playful cat and the cat might just jump up your leg!

The inspection ended with no lead paint found. The meter goes through all the layers of paint slapped on since the building was built in 1960. He told me that he only had about 8 apartments left to do, no lead paint found anywhere so far. Too bad. I was in the mood for fish and CHIPS! (My apologies to those who read my similar joke on Facebook. I felt it too good not to share here, too.)

As a result of my even cleaning the oven in preparation for some unknown aspect inspection, my place is all spic and span as I head into my staycation. Cool. A few Swiffers and keeping up with dirty dishes is all the housework I'll be doing on the staycation! Yesterday was hot and muggy here. I pampered myself taking a long soaking bath with Bomb Cosmetics bath rocks -- a scented fizzly bit of heaven while drinking a cold glass of Schmirnoff Ice bought specially for the occasion and listening to smooth jazz. I had steak, mashed potatoes and asparagus followed by Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate (used to be Chocolate Blast) ice cream. I lounged about. I read. I listened to music. I napped.

Today, my plans aren't all that much either. Sometime between 7:30 and 9:30 AM, my latest Peapod order will arrive. My big chore of the day will be putting groceries away. By Monday, I should be relaxed enough to walk downtown and watch the Memorial Day tribute to those who have served the country. 

Onto the photos -- clicking on an image will open it in a new page, clicking again will give you a larger image. Closing that new window will bring you back here.  

Squirrel up close and personal
Squirrel photo shoot

It was raining, so his fur and tail are a bit frazzled. Plainfield Train Station.

Lush from the rains

Although they say we're still short for the year, the abundant rains of the past few weeks have turned everything lush and green. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Small bee on small weeds
Small bee on the weed

I don't know what kind of small bee this is, nor the weed. It's a pseudo-dandelion ... way too tall and different leaf structure than a dandelion. Bridgewater Train Station.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - May 20, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Well, man ... this has been one busy and rather sucky week for me. Yeah, you heard me. Sucky.

Work has been busy with unexpected auditors popping in. Not through my doing at all, we didn't do all that well. It's one of those "I told you" so kind of scenarios, but of course it's not really politically acceptable to say that. (But I told them so before this went down. I did.) The sad part with some of the latest auditors is that I actually know more than they do about company practices.  That's what happens when you spend half your life in one workplace.

The home front has been a bit hectic, too. First, on Wednesday I received a notice under my door that I have a new landlord. Okay. That wasn't unexpected. The last real landlord went bankrupt (and more, as you'll see) a few years back and the building has been being run by a receivership appointed by the bank. I read last summer that there was a winning bid of 9 million on the building at auction.

No, I didn't buy it.

We recently had our five year state inspection. Then there was another inspection by the city (for the sale?). On Thursday, which was my day off this week due to a switch, there was a knock on my door while I was still in my pajamas. HEY! Day OFF! It was a new superintendent of another building owned by my new landlord. He had a list of repairs including removing the old caulking around my tub and replacing it with new, new bathroom ceiling tiles, fix the low cold water pressure in the kitchen and a few other things. Um. Okay. I told him, as I've told others, that they need to fix whatever is leaking upstairs in regard to the bathroom ceiling.

When will these repairs be done? Today.


I made him give me ten minutes to put real clothes on. Then I let unexpected repairmen in to my apartment which had some housecleaning chores scheduled for my day off. Remember, it's my DAY OFF.

I watched a few episodes of the Falling Skies screener TNT sent me while a huge man was closed in my tiny bathroom choking on caulking fumes. Vincent peeked under the door at him either worried for his welfare or concerned that the man would use his litterbox.

That DAY OFF ordeal ended, fast forward to Friday after work. A notice under the door that the new landlord will be doing inspections on Tuesday between 4pm and 6:30pm. Argh! How many inspections can one tenant go through? I feel like Arlo Guthrie at Whitehall Street -- inspected, neglected, dejected, rejected!

Along with that notice, there was a questionnaire to send back to the new landlord. It asked the basics -- name, contact numbers, car info for the parking lot, who else lives there, etc. Along with the questions, it asked how much rent is being paid. Huh? I'm sure the receivership gave them that info. Heck, if David Connolly gave the info to the bank when he went bankrupt, you know the bank's appointed folks told the new landlord. As tempting as it was to try to lower my own rent, I told the truth. Maybe it's a test of my integrity.

But the story doesn't stop there. Saturday in the mail I received what looked like trouble -- a letter from a lawyer's office and a notice of certified mail being held at the post office. Huh? Is someone suing me? Nope. A neighbor in the elevator told me everyone got the same thing. Of course, he was telling me in Spanish, so I wasn't sure if I was understanding him right. I was. It was from the bank saying that the receivership was released of its duties, my security deposit transferred to the new landlord, and much legalese. Um. Okay. Apparently the certified letter is another copy of the same thing. If I get there while the post office is open, fine. If not, fine. The notice from the new landlord on the first day told me that they had my security deposit, what bank it's in and the account number.

Then there's my original landlord (not the original original one, but the last one). What comes around, goes around. He's facing two counts that could each net him twenty years in prison and five million dollars plus in fines. His real estate Ponzi scheme caught up with him. The FBI and Securities Commission went after him for wire fraud, laundering money and a host of other charges. That's what he gets for jacking up my rent each year he had the building and letting the elevator remain broken for months when my knees were bad!

Now that I've bored everyone to death, onto this week's photos. Clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will make it larger and closing that window will lead you right back here.  

Monarch Building in the puddles
Monarch Building reflected

A testament to all the rain we had (again) this week. The Monarch Building (condos) on East Front Street is reflected in puddles in their neighbor's driveway.

Plainfield Train Station irises
Plainfield Train Station irises

If I'm not mistaken, I think local blogger Bernice had a hand in planting these. East Fourth Street, Plainfield.

In Red-ish
Westfield planter flowers

I don't know what they are, but they're big and pretty. Elm Street, Westfield. (I had to make a Trader Joe's foray on Friday due to stress!)


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Survivor: One World Season Finale Blog Party

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for jackiestvblog.blogspot.com

Happy Mother's Day to all my friends out there! I hope it's been a good one!

This is it! It's the first all women final five in the history of the show! For once in a reality television competition show, the women (kind of, sort of) stuck together. Who woulda thunk it? In the past on Survivor and other shows, the men are much better at actually staying with their bro'liances and the women tend to cat fight and backstab their sisters. Hmmm. I wonder why that is?

Not that this group is all that cohesive, mind you. Everything isn't hunky-dory or lovey-dovey. (I don't get to use those phrases enough in life!) But it's all women at the end and it's just a matter of which woman will win it all.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with major happenings. The real fun, though, will be in the comments section. Please join in with your thoughts! Beverages, snacks and feasts befitting a Reward will be in ample supply!

Immunity is back up for grabs -- a balance beam maze, rope net, puzzle bags, solve a combination lock. Kim wins immunity!

Tribal Council -- Chelsea, Alicia, Chelsea, Alicia, Alicia. Karma got the gal and Colton's ally is done.

The Ritual Walk to the immunity challenge, remembering fallen castaways.

It's the final Immunity Challenge! They must maneuver bowls through a structure and stack them. Kim wins the final immunity!

Final TC and Christina's not even trying to stay! The tally -- Sabrina, Christina, Christina, Christina. It's fitting. She didn't even try.

It's time for the jury questioning. Like everything else this season, I don't expect it to be real exciting.

Opening statements, Chelsea up first. She spoke of her trust with Kim and how they did all the strategy moves together. Then she made excuses for voting the way they decided and played differently from the time she voted out Jonas.

Kim loves the game and thought she would play as hard as she could. She's proud of her strategic game, but sending each person home took a toll on her. She asks forgiveness from the jury.

Sabrina spoke of balance. She said that stepping down from challenges was a strategy and she played more of a social game by plan. She mentioned that she was laid off before coming to the show. (However, on the local news tonight, she talked about how her students are reacting to her on the show. She must have been rehired or taken on a new teaching position.)

Jonas is up first, lays out ground rules -- joking. He loves them all, talks about how badly Sabrina did in the challenges, but loves her. Chelsea is the hottest chick, asks her what her big game changing move was, answer was taking Kat out. Why Kim didn't take Christina. Thought that she would beat her if all mad about being voted out.

Christina up next. Kim thinks she would have a better chance of winning against Sabrina than Chelsea. "Chelsea, why do you hate people?" Oh my!

Jay up next. No hard feelings, you should be proud. Sabrina, did squat. Strategy? Yes, she thinks she's usually too overbearing, balance. 

Mike -- Kim, define blindside. She does. Did you perfect the art? She claims Mike was the only guy Troy would be willing to send home. 

Tarzan -- Um. Loves to use his extensive vocabulary and rambles about his wife's visit to the island. Um. Okay. Chelsea tears up.

Leif -- Still feels the sting of his exit. Kim says she didn't know if she could trust him. Sabrina admits "punking out."

Alicia -- Kim, we played similar, kingpins. I would have won. 

Troyzan -- Beef with Kim, she played a great game. Moment she made the move to demolish his chances of winning. Answer, taking Jonas out. He says she got it wrong.

Kat -- All three hurt her very badly. Kim, I'm destroyed. She talks of open heart surgeries she's had and another ahead. She doesn't have time to be angry with them, she will vote on the best game. She's making more sense than she did all season ... tells all to vote on best game.

Troy votes Sabrina, Kat true to her own advice votes Kim. Those are the only two votes shown.

Off to New York City for the results. Final tally -- Kim, Sabrina, Kim, Sabrina, Kim, Kim, Kim ... KIM WINS THE SEASON, as it should be.

Kim, Tarzan, Troyzan and Chelsea were the ones in the running for the $100,000 fan award. Kim won that, too.

What kind of hairdo is that on Bill Posey? A mulfro? Combination mullet/afro.

They're headed to the Phillipines with three airlifted out ex-castaways. Ack. I'm sure that will include Colton. Sigh.  

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - May 13, 2012

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. 

First, I'd like to wish all of the mothers out there a happy Mothers Day! May you be pampered, fussed over and fed all day long! Well, all day until the Survivor: One World season finale, that is. Yep, 8pm EDT I expect many of you right here for the big blog party!

Since I touched on television, I might as well run with it for the moment. Guess what? TNT sent me the first four episodes of Falling Skies (season premiere June 17) for review purposes. Woohoo! Now, I just need time to watch them! I'm looking forward to the return of that show. Once I get them watched, I'll post about them. (Yay!)

They also sent me seven hours of the new Dallas series, also premiering in June. Unfortunately, I just cannot watch seven hours of Dallas -- I never got into the original series. I gave them to a friend who's a huge fan of the show. He's going to report back to me.

On the home front, life in my apartment, building, and neighborhood is just fine. I do feel safe here, even at night. I have good neighbors and all is well. That said, just beyond my immediate neighborhood, on a route I walk daily ... there was a murder. It happened at about 4:15am, an hour when I might be up but I'm not walking to the train station! I generally leave a couple of hours later to catch the first westbound train. 

Nonetheless, this latest murder is unsettling. It doesn't seem to be gang or drug related. It was a hard working Hispanic man a few years younger than me just waiting for his ride to work. It appears to have been a robbery from the reports I read. 4:15am is not a time to be on the streets here. There's hardly anyone out and about at that hour. When I go through, there are several folks I see each day. A robbery isn't likely then. I hope someone saw something or knows something and comes forward. 

The police were still arriving to the scene as I passed through that morning. Thankfully, the body was covered and I didn't see any signs of blood, etc. Had there not been all the police around, I might not have even realized there was a body under the covering. As I passed by, I first thought it was a pedestrian struck as the body was adjacent to the crosswalk. I'm so leery of people running lights early in the mornings! But all the NYC news helicopters and the tons of Plainfield and Union County police seemed to indicate more than a hit and run accident. A victim of gunfire. Sigh.

Anyway ... onto this week's photos. Clicking on an image will open it in a new window, clicking again will make it larger. Closing the new window will land you right back here on the blog.    

Squirrel on duty
Squirrel on duty

This squirrel was kind enough to pose for me Saturday morning in the sunshine. It rained and/or was windy for most of the week. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Help me!
Help me! Help me!

Oh no! The fly (left) is stuck on the azalea! Bridgewater.

Damselfly on poison ivy

I had my first damselfly sighting Friday afternoon on my commute home. Yes, that was when the sun broke through! Like the squirrel, he was kind enough to pose for me. They are so hard to photograph with detail as they're not much larger than a big sewing needle ... in flight, they're impossible.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Survivor: One World May 9th Blog Party

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for jackiestvblog.blogspot.com

So here we are ... it's the penultimate episode of the season. The big finale is Sunday evening, hopefully at 8pm here on the East Coast. The one thing which has made this whole season worthwhile is the community here on the blog. If I were just watching it alone, I might have given up by now. As it is, this whole season gets an "eh" from me in the entertainment rating.

As the show airs here, I'll update this entry with major happenings. But, as usual, the real fun is in the comments! Come join us!

Reward challenge has them spinning around collecting discs (getting dizzy) and decoding a box. The winner is taken by yacht, cocktails, shower, big meal and sleep away overnight on the yacht. Chelsea wins Reward! She chose Sabrina because she hasn't had much food, then Kim, too.

The Immunity Challenge has them using large fish hooks to pick up bags of puzzle pieces, then completing a fish puzzle ... all with one hand tied behind their backs. Alicia won immunity with Kim on her tail.

Tribal Council -- it should be down to a vote between Tarzan or Chelsea. 

The tally -- Chelsea, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan, Tarzan ... let's see if he'll swing from vines on the way out!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Amazing Race 20 Season Finale Blog Party

Welp, this is it. It's the season finale. And, much to my dismay, Brendon and Rachel are still in it. Sigh. Tonight is a two-hour show ... I wouldn't mind it if the last hour didn't include them! I know. I'm a cruel person. But I'm SO tired of seeing their drama! If I had to cheer on a remaining team, I think I'd go for the Other Rachel and Dave.

As the show airs here on the East Coast, I'll update this entry with the major events. However, the real fun is in the comments area. Come join us! (And bring snacks!)

The teams are headed off to Japan. The teams will bunch up on the same flight. Brenchel missed the bus which the rest of the teams caught. Too bad, so sad. Sigh. They caught up. Now it's Dave and Rachel behind by missing the ferry.

Heh. The Roadblock is a Japanese TV game show!

The Detour has sushi and sumo premises. Sushi bingo, then eat. Or, with the latter, convince locals to pose for photographs with sumo wrestler cut-outs.

Rachel and Dave hit the Pit Stop first, tying the record for the most first place wins. They won a trip to New Zealand.
2. Art and JJ
3. Brenchel

Vanessa and Ralph are Philiminated

Teams are heading to Hawaii. After rappelling up and down a 45 story tower, the Roadblock has them shaving ice. JJ and Art are trailing.

Whoa! Brenchel took a cab when the clue said to go on foot!

Rachel and Dave arrived at the Pit Stop before completing the Roadblock! Eek! JJ and Art are at the Roadblock while Brenchel has yet to reach it. Art is stuck at the Roadblock, Rachel and Dave are on their way back to the Pit Stop.


Art and JJ make it second. Brenchel is third.

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - May 6, 2012

Yes indeed. Yes, it is Sunday morning and time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. On a television note -- remember, tonight is the two-hour season finale of The Amazing Race -- stop by the blog for the big party. (I so want Brenchel to be last!)

Let's see ... what happened this week? Well, it rained quite a bit. They claim that we're still in danger of a drought, though. For some reason, we've been having early morning thunderstorms this past week. Lucky me, I got drenched Friday morning going into work. I had my umbrella, but I should have worn a rubber suit!

Last night was the "super moon." It's a full moon and closest it gets to us in orbit. It sounds like a perfect photo op, but the clouds were obscuring it when I looked. And, once I had my pj's on, that was it. I wasn't going to go out again.

On both the work and home fronts, not much to share. I worked a lot, didn't sleep enough yet ate quite well. I have no drama to report. Nor did I mysteriously or miraculously receive a million dollars. I was hoping for the latter, but it never seems to happen. 

Onto the photos. Since they're on Photobucket, clicking on an image will open a new page, clicking again will open a larger view, then closing that page will land you back here.
Handicapped bird roost?

Handicapped bird roost?

This one-legged sparrow seems to be fending for himself just fine in Bridgewater, NJ.

'tis purple and puffy
Purplish and poufy

Someone told me what these flowers were once, but I've forgotten. In the words of Dan Quayle, "A mind is a terrible thing to lose." Berckman Street, Plainfield.

Colorful flowers
An explosion of spring!

Here's "purplish and poufy" in their native habitat with pink azaleas.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Survivor: One World Blog Party - May 2

Survivor: One World, By Zoetawny for jackiestvblog.blogspot.com

Survivor fans ready? If not for parties each week, this might be a season to give up on. Sure, it's great to see the women stomping their way to the final four. But things are SO predictable. Perhaps this will be the week Tarzan steps up to the plate and his real game will finally be afoot! Maybe this week Christina will tromp all the others winning both Reward and Immunity!

Yeah, right.

As the show airs, I'll update this post with the major happenings. However, the real fun is in the comments ... come join the party!

Sprint tree mail, the families time is here. Reward challenge has them getting a brief hug with their loved ones and participating in the challenge. Each castaway and loved one have to go through a rope course with knots while tied together.

The relationship between Kat and her cousin seems a bit much to me. Very unsettling. Kat wins, chooses Kim and Alicia as the ones to spend time with her and loved ones. The girl doesn't think. The others think Tarzan and Christina should have been chosen.

Once again, Immunity is up for grabs. It's endurance. I'm sure Tarzan has a chance at this one! Er ... or not. Sabrina's out, then Tarzan. He did better than I thought he would. Alicia is out, so is Chelsea. Christina is out. Despite her pouting that she wants to win, Kat is out. Kim wins Immunity!

The tally -- Sabrina, Kat, Kat, Kat, Kat.

Buh-bye, Kat! She will probably go down as the one who cried the most at the boot.